When we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we are participating in divine reality. It is not merely a religious ceremony with symbolic gestures, but an active participation in the life of Christ. The priest prays,
“Again we offer unto Thee this reasonable and bloodless worship, and ask Thee, and pray Thee, and supplicate Thee: Send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts offered.
“Make this Bread the precious Body of Thy Christ…and that which is in this cup, the precious Blood of Thy Christ… Making the change by Thy Holy Spirit.
“Amen. Amen. Amen.”
We call upon the Father to send the Holy Spirit to not only transform the bread and wine, but the people as well, into the Body of Christ – into the very likeness of God. But the change we are praying for does not happen automatically or magically. It is something we must willfully engage in.
The life of Christ, in which we are proclaiming our will to enter, is the Eucharistic life, which is both thanksgiving and self-emptying:
It is self-emptying because our Lord, who was the Creator of heaven and earth, the entire cosmos and all that is beautiful, stepped down from his throne of glory, wrapped himself in flesh, came as a servant, and died in a cruel manner as a criminal. He emptied himself of all that is glorious to save a sickly, fallen race. We too are expected to cast aside all worldly ambitions, cares, and glory to save our own sickly, fallen soul and, perhaps, to aid in the salvation of our neighbor as well (“through us to all the people”). But that will only come as we ourselves are transformed and healed into the likeness of Christ by receiving him and the Holy Spirit within us.
The Eucharistic Christ-life is one of thanksgiving, in which we praise God in all things and truly understand our sufferings, our own crucifixion, as our glory. I must confess I am not there yet. I do not thank God every time I stub my toe, get stuck in traffic, or encounter difficulties. I do not thank God even for all of the enjoyable things, let alone the sufferings he sends to teach me to crucify my flesh and die in him so that I can rise and live in him.
Our best life now is one of crucifixion and death, doxology and thanksgiving. May our merciful and loving God transform us into divine creatures through the Christ-life, the Eucharist, and the power of the Holy Spirit; transforming us, bestowing his grace upon us, and “through us to all of the people,” the animals, the plants, the rocks, and the entire order of the cosmos as the “creation groans” in anticipation of our adoption. For as the priests of creation, we offer him the bread and wine, the earth and the heavens, the entire order of creation along with ourselves to be vivified by the Holy Spirit, renewed and brought to life once again.
The feature image is from Pravoslavie, I think.
This blog was a journal entry that I recently wrote and decided to publish. I apologize for the lack of frequent updates lately. My life has been a whirlwind of change, and it’s hard to find a free moment to jot a few theological notes. I will post a blog soon about some of the upcoming changes in my life.